Report from the Nerd Break at SXSWi

As suspected, not a lot of burning family travel news to come out of my time at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) tech conference last week, but here are two items of possible interest to parents….

***  The research work of Dr. danah boyd (yes, she spells it lowercase) into social media usage of people in general, but especially teens.  She argued strongly that privacy is not dead, but you must take much more control of your privacy than you did before the ubiquitous Web.  My feeling is that parents must help in this area, but how many of them are tech-savvy enough to do so?

Here is a video excerpt from her opening keynote and here is a summary of her presentation on the excellent site ReadWriteWeb (with the so-true quote, “By and large, teenagers, according to Boyd, are more conscious about what they can gain by being public, while adults worry more about what they could lose.”)

***  The explosive growth of smartphones continues and will continue as more and more new models and services are offered (my own teen does not have one, but I can see the day coming – for now she works on her mad texting skillz.)   What does it mean when your kid has the Web in his/her pocket?

The biggest techy buzz out of “South by” this year was location-based games like Foursquare and Gowalla, where people can “check in” to different locations and collect virtual prizes for doing so.  The games are more addictive than you’d think (I play and I normally dislike games, and on Foursquare you don’t need a smartphone to play) but there are security implications to revealing your exact physical location to the whole planet, via the Web.

I strongly recommend talking about that with your tweens/teens before they jump into these services.